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Arrival of F-16XL Ship 2 at Langley 1993: Joseph R. Chambers (L), Chief of the Flight Applications Division and W. Ray Hook (R), representing center director Paul Holloway greet Jim Smolka a test pilot from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center upon delivery of the F-16XL Ship 1 to Langley in 1993. In the 1980s a highly successful joint program between Langley and General Dynamics was conducted to develop an efficient supersonic version of the F-16 fighter. The resulting F-16XL configuration incorporated a highly swept supersonic wing which was retrofitted to two existing conventional F-16 aircraft. One aircraft, referred to as Ship 1 was a single-seat aircraft in the second aircraft was a two-seat version known as Ship 2. After the military program was terminated, the two prototype aircraft were loaned to NASA Dryden for research applications including studies of supersonic laminar flow control for supersonic civil transports. As part of planning for the NASA High-Speed Research (HSR) Program to develop technology required for a supersonic civil transport in the early 1990s, Langley proposed to use the F-16XL Ship 1 for low-speed high-lift studies of such configurations. After the aircraft arrived on loan from Dryden, it was painted black with gold trim to enhance flow visualization (see EL-2000-00568). Within months the HSR activity was changed and the F-16XL departed back to Dryden where it was used for aerodynamic studies in a joint program with Langley.

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The NASA F-16XL is a research airplane that was used for the Cranked-Arrow Wing Aerodynamics Project (CAWAP). The aircraft is shown in the research paint scheme utilized for on-surface flow visualization. During CAWAP, tufts, oil, and liquid crystals were used to document the flow patterns on the upper surfaces of the wings.

[top] Videos

NASA 849 - Left Tail

Flight 38 - Right Vertical Tail, 1994

Flight 38 - Right Fuselage, 1994

Flight 38 - Right Wing Missile, 1994

Flight 39 - Left Fuselage, 1994

Flight 39 - Left Tail, 1994

Flight 145, March 1996

Flight 145 - Left Wingtip, March 1996

Flight 145 - Left Fuselage, March 1996

Flight 147 - Left Tail, March 1996

Flight 147 - Left Wingtip, March 1996

Flight 151 - Tail, April 1996

Flight 151 - Left Fuselage, April 1996

Flight 153 - Wingtip, April 1996

Flight 153 - Tail, April 1996

Flight 154, April 1996

Flight 154 - Tail, April 1996

Flight 154 - Fuselage, April 1996

For more on the role of Langley Research Center in the development of the F-16, see the 2015 eBook Elegance in Flight.

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